“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.” (II Corinthians 5:11, ESV)
That the Apostle Paul was “driven” is no secret. We can find throughout the epistles little clues that give us some insight into the soul and psyche of this beloved Saint of God. No doubt his visions of God drove him through all of the obstacles, both spiritual and physical that he encountered. Also, there is no doubt one could make a good sized list of other things that drove him, such as his hope of a glorified body, his love for Christ, the need before him, and even the realization of the impending judgment of the lost.
One thing stands out boldly in this ultra-personal letter of the Apostle Paul to the believers in the Corinthian Church, and that was his understanding of the judgment of God of his life and ministry. Paul was motivated or driven by the fear of the Lord. It was his acute awareness of this fear that caused him to persuade men to Christ.
This statement comes on the heels of what Paul had written in verse 10. Paul wrote in Chapter five, verses 1-5 that the dangers he faced, the enemies he faced, and the battle he was waging took his life, could very well destroy his present body. If his body was destroyed God had made an immortal and heavenly body to clothe his soul. As a result of this confidence Paul was able to be encouraged. Paul knew he walked by faith and that his confidence was in the Lord. Paul also was motivated by his desire to please God while he was living and to please God after his physical death as he would appear at the Bema Seat of Christ.
Paul reminds the Corinthians that all believers will stand judgment at the Bema Seat after their transformation. Paul stated emphatically that God would reveal the secrets of the hearts of the believers and judge their works as Christians. This revelation and judgment would result in the receiving of rewards or the loss of rewards.
Paul was earnestly motivated to be acceptable to God. Paul made note of the terror which belongs to the Lord. Paul was aware of “how terrible the scrutiny” of the Lord really is. This fear that Paul experienced when he thought of this severe and perfect scrutiny produced an awe and reverence in Paul that motivated him to live for Christ rather than himself and caused Paul to always be about the business of sharing the gospel. The fear of the Lord is the fear that the Lord excites or generates. The Lord is the object of this fear.
“Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” (Ps 2:11, ESV)
“The fear of the LORD is clean (pure), enduring forever…” Ps 19:9, ESV)
“The counsel of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.” (Ps 25:14, ESV)
“submitting to one another out of reverence (fear) for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:22, ESV)
Paul acted under the influence of his earnest sensation of reverencing the Lord as the Lord is worthy. In all of Paul’s attitude and actions he was aware that God was entitled to a level of respect, awe, reverence, and worship that was only befitting of God. Paul knew that this God would one day perfectly scrutinize this life and ministry, so Paul persuaded men in light of that awareness. Influenced by the fear of the Lord seeing the deep dark secrets of Paul’s heart and knowing that God would judge severely his activities Paul preached the gospel.
How do you perceive or view God? Do you have a truly healthy and earnest “fear” or reverence/respect for the character and nature of God? Or have you been led down the path by those with little or no understanding of God’s glorious character and have made God to be similar or equal to you? Is God a buddy, a pal, a holy dude that serves you? Or is God so Holy, so righteous, so just, and so glorious that He excites awe and respect from you as you are privileged to both know and serve Him?
What motivates or drives you?